Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthcare Reform, Part Three: If You’re Not Part of the Solution…

It should be fairly obvious by now that I’m strongly in favor of healthcare reform.

Major healthcare reform.

Including a public option of some kind.

The more I learn about so-called health co-ops the less I like the idea, and the less I think they’ll do anything to help fix the current mess – and, in fact, I’m pretty sure that health co-ops will make things worse. But that’s another post, maybe tomorrow.

Today, let’s talk about the not so loyal opposition.

Let’s talk about the GOP.

It’s one thing to oppose the President and the Democrat dominated Congress out of principle, because you honestly believe you have a better solution, or because you honestly believe that the nation will end up worse off.

It’s another thing to defend the status quo because you’re in the back pocket of the insurance lobby.

And It’s another thing entirely if you’re doing it just because you’re following a bunch of idiots.

Since the election, there’s been a lot of talk inside and outside of the party regarding what, exactly, the GOP needs to do to fix itself.

The answer is simple really.

Pick better leaders.

Yesterday on MSNBC, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was asked about the various healthcare reform bills currently before Congress.  Specifically, Steele was asked if he thinks there is a “death panel” provision in the bill.  He responded:

“It may or may not be. I don’t know. We don’t know what the bill is.”

We don’t know what the bill is?

We don’t know what the bill is?

The head of the RNC doesn’t know what the bill is?

The head of the RNC doesn’t know the details of what is very likely to be the single most important legislation before Congress since, oh, Social Security? Since Civil Rights? The RNC Chairman, the head of a political organization that represents roughly half of this country and is the primary opposition in a debate that will, one way or the other, have a profound impact on the future of the United States, doesn’t know what the bill is? Doesn’t know something simple and basic like if there are “death panels” in it?

What. The. Fuck?

How is that even possible? How is it possible for his party to debate the Democrats if they don’t even know what the bill is?  What the fuck have they been talking about?  Didn’t anybody tell them that the text of the bills are online at the Library of Congress? That they’re updated daily? Jesus H. Christ, who put this idiot in charge?

See? This is why shallow fear mongering rabble rousers like Glen Beck and Sarah Palin are such a power in the party. There’s a reason why the GOP appears to be a disorganized mob pouring through the streets with torches and pitchforks.

Nature abhors a vacuum – so does the crowd. They want and need leadership – and if they can’t or don’t get it from their elected leaders, they will get it from whomever is shouting loudest. People will follow whoever sounds like they know what they’re talking about – even if they don’t. And frankly Steele sure as hell doesn’t sound much like he knows what he’s talking about. You’d think that the head of the GOP’s strategy body would be running the reform opposition command center, picking apart every detail of the reform bills. Speaking in military terms, how in the hell do you form an effective strategy if you don’t even understand the battlespace? You’d think that Steele would at least be conversant in something as basic as the thoroughly debunked death panel issue, before conducting a news interview with a major network, wouldn’t you?  I’m mean it’s not like it was a surprise. ABC didn’t ambush him. It was an interview specifically about healthcare.  Healthcare? Uh, what the hell, Morning Joe?  I came here to talk about Britney Spears. Did you see her on David Letterman last night – her body is smoking. Wow!

There is, of course, another possibility.

The one where Steele does indeed know what he’s talking about – It is possible that he knows exactly what is in the various bills before Congress. But instead of saying so, he is deliberately fanning the flames lit by Beck and Palin and the other nuts. Because the conservatives really don’t have an argument against national healthcare reform – they just don’t want to hand Obama a victory. If this is the case, he’s still an idiot – because the end result is exactly the same – it’s called being too clever for your own good.

But I doubt that is the case. Steele isn’t clever. What you see is pretty much what you get, that’s becoming more and more obvious every day.

And that is exactly what’s wrong with the GOP.

Because it lacks strong leadership (hell, at this point I think it lacks even weak leadership, Steele isn’t leading so much as wandering around aimlessly), the not so loyal opposition is now in the hands of the insane clown posse: the Palins, the Becks, the Limbaughs, and the Coulters.

Understand something here, I think that the healthcare bill(s) should be debated.  I don’t think any party or any President including this one should get their own way unfettered and unchallenged.

But when I say debated, I mean debated.

That’s not what the GOP is doing.

Instead they’re on TV “debating” ghosts, phantasms from their own nightmares. Arguing against issues that don’t even exist.

Unfortunately for all of us the mob is now aroused and this nonsense is likely to stymie any chance for real reform.

Once again we’ll end up with the insurance companies and the bean counters in charge – instead of the people we actually elected. The RNC and the GOP will pat themselves on the back and declare victory.

But in the end there will be no victors. No winners.

In this debate either we all win…

…or we all lose.

Every last one of us.

With that in mind, Conservatives, I’d think damned carefully about who you’re following.


  1. I was thinking along similar lines when I heard a piece on NPR where they repeated one of the Republican leaders' description of healthcare as "Obama's Waterloo." Well, could be it's the American people's Waterloo, you know, if it goes down in flames. One gets the unfortunate impression that a lot of the loudest people in the Republican party would be happy to see a good bipartisan healthcare bill go down in flames so long as the flames burned the President and the Democrats in general.

    Which is just stupid. It's cutting your nose to spite your face, which seems an especially apt figure-of-speech when you're talking about how much it would cost to have your nose sewn back on and who's paying for it.

    The United States is now one of the few--I can't recall at the moment if we're actually the last--First-World countries not to have some form of public healthcare. I think a public option is going to prove to be a fixture of modern, industrialized nations much like environmental regs, some form of democracy, and telecom infrastructure. Which suggests that the opponents of healthcare reform are going to lose even if they win in more ways than one: of course they'll lose out by not having a modern healthcare system, but they'll also lose the war they're fighting. Obama's already carried the ball farther down the field than the Clintons were able to get it--if he doesn't make it to the end zone, the next President to pick it up will (and it will happen; history is against the opposition).

    I'd still rather win now, of course.

  2. I'm so frustrated and angry that I'm speechless. Either that, or likely to descend into incoherent raving.

    How are these lackwits even allowed to vote? Or reproduce themselves?

  3. The bugshit crazies are the loudest and least informed. But they show up with pictures of Obama as Hitler and talk about death panels.

    I, personally, don't think that any healthcare reform bill will go far enough, i.e., a single-payor system with the opportunity to add on supplementary insurance or pay cash. But I am too tired and too swamped at work to write more than this (or the fluffy stuff on my blog).

    Jim, why aren't you the Emperor of the Universe yet? When you get the job, can I be Healthcare Minister?

  4. I still find myself flabbergasted that there are people who want the status quo. I understand I'm more active than most, but do all these people just pay the bills their insurance is supposed to cover when the insurance denies the claims? Really. So far this year we have three claims denied, which we forced them to accept that yes, they really did need to cover them.

  5. It’s funny we hear Republicans say that they do not want “faceless bureaucrats” making medical decisions but they have no problem with “private sector” “faceless bureaucrats” daily declining medical coverage and financially ruining good hard working people (honestly where can they go with a pre-condition). And who says that the “private sector” is always right, do we forget failures like Long-Term Capital, WorldCom, Global Crossing, Enron, Tyco, AIG and Lehman Brothers. Of course the federal government will destroy heathcare by getting involved, Oh but wait, Medicare and Medicaid and our military men and women and the Senate and Congress get the best heathcare in the world, and oh, that’s right, its run by our federal government. I can understand why some may think that the federal government will fail, if you look at the past eight years as a current history, with failures like the financial meltdown and Katrina but the facts is they can and if we support them they will succeed.

    How does shouting down to stop the conversation of the healthcare debate at town hall meetings, endears them to anyone. Especially when the organizations that are telling them where to go and what to do and say are Republicans political operatives, not real grassroots. How does shouting someone down or chasing them out like a “lynch mob” advanced the debate, it does not. So I think the American people will see through all of this and know, like the teabagger, the birthers, these lynch mobs types AKA “screamers” are just the same, people who have to resort to these tactics because they have no leadership to articulate what they real want. It’s easy to pickup a bus load of people who hate, and that’s all I been seeing, they hate and can’t debate. Too bad.

  6. Steve,

    FYI, about 12 years ago I wrote a system for a large US health insurance company, at that time the policy was: If anyone contests a denied claim, it will be automatically granted. I don't know if this is still the policy, and there was an upper limit on the claim amount, but it is probably worth contesting every denied claim.

  7. It is so easy to be a republican. All you have to do is park your brain at the door and repeat the bat-shit crazy crap you hear from the GOP leadership.

  8. I would love to see a list of every senator and congressperson posted with the campaign donation amounts they've received from insurance companies in the last 8 years.

    And I mean, posted widely. Everywhere, so every person can see exactly who their "elected representatives" are actually representing. It sure as hell isn't me.

  9. timb111, unless your protocol included spending over an hour on the phone calling the insurance company claims department, the provider, the provider's billing agent, and then back to the insurance company who sets up a three-way call to resolve the issue (opps, I guess we messed up rekeying the billing numbers), then it's probably a different set of rules.

  10. To be fair, a lot of Democrats haven't read the bill either, but certainly the opposition should be prepared to refute its points.

    I think what saddens me the most is that all we hear is about how terrible this bill is, but I haven't seen what Republicans have come up with as an alternative. Maybe I haven't searched enough -- is it out there?

    @Alesia -- "I would love to see a list of every senator and congressperson posted with the campaign donation amounts they've received from insurance companies in the last 8 years."

    Sadly, it's not just Republicans who are in the back pocket of insurance companies. There has been plenty of recent press about the so-called Blue Dog Democrats and their insurance company contributors.

    Either way, as Jim says, we all lose.

  11. Bill said:

    Sadly, it's not just Republicans who are in the back pocket of insurance companies. There has been plenty of recent press about the so-called Blue Dog Democrats and their insurance company contributors.

    That's why I didn't specify by party, you'll note. :) I know the Dems are just as culpable as the Repugs (sic) in this debacle. I just want their shame to be made public, in one last furtive, futile hope it might get the electorate steamed enough to do something about it.

    Futile, indeed. I was Don Quixote in another life...

  12. You would think the Republican/Conservative/Business people would be all for a system that doesn't reduce the productivity of their workers by forcing them to sit on the phone to get the coverage the company paid for, or the costs of a large HR department to try to help out or educate the workforce.

    Dr. Phil

  13. Alesia, the Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org, has a lot of that data. For instance, the Insurance industry gave $46 mil to congress for the 2008 period. Health Professionals rank #3, and Insurance ranks #7 in the list of industries donating to congress. It's somewhat hard to dig out, but the data is there.


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